My gel nail hell

It was now 10.30pm. We’d been at it for 1 ½ hours, and all I had to show for it were 8 extra shiny nails, and two messy nails in different shades of red. I was disappointed. And tired. But mainly just pissed...
Publish date:
August 30, 2012
nails, DIY, manicure, beauty disasters, gel nails

The preface:As I type this two of the fingers on my left hand are wrapped in tin foil; not because it’s a new fashion or because I’ve had some horrific accident, but because I dared to try and undertake a home beauty treatment. I quite frankly should have known better. In fact, I did know better. I learnt years ago that while I’m a dab hand in the kitchen, and fast of wit, when it comes to beauty treatments I’m a massive D for dunce. I can’t pluck my eyebrows or apply fake eyelashes, and as of this evening I officially can’t give myself super glossy professional looking gel nails.

This whole sorry saga began a few months ago when a very lovely beauty pr invited me to the launch of a new home gel nail kit. I eagerly went along to the launch, admired everyone’s super glossy nails and merrily watched an hour long demonstration – marvelling at the simplicity of it all and the stylish results.

You see gel nails are the latest nail beauty craze (of which there seem to have been many recently). Generally favoured by TOWIE-types, the gel looks just like extra-glossy nail varnish, but instead of chipping and peeling off the next day in the shower can last for 2 – 4 weeks (which being a lazy beauty slacker, sounds pretty appealing).

Fast forward to tonight:My first mistake: Was obviously thinking that this whole endeavour would end in anything but total carnage.

My second mistake: Was my (utterly genius) decision to attempt this new and rather lengthy beauty treatment at 9pm, approximately 10 hours before I head off on holiday for three weeks, when I still haven’t finished packing.

So here, for your amusement, is the photographic catalogue of my gel nail hell:

My nails before

These were my nails before. Good, honest, humble, working nails.

The kit

The fact that this treatment needed this many components (including a UV light) was the first sign that I was not going to succeed…

The instructions

The encyclopaedic instructions were the second…


Still I persevered and buffed my nails for only the second time in my life. I don’t like buffing my nails. Buffing is basically scraping, which to my mind can’t be doing the nails much good.


This made me much happier…I like sanitizing things.


This helps prepare the nails for the gel… sadly there is no such product on the market to prepare me for the experience…


Triumphantly I applied my first blob of gel… so far, so good…


Each application needs to be ‘baked’ under the UV lamp (for 30 seconds separately immediately after application and then 5 minutes altogether once you’ve done all the nails on one hand).

Still baking

…that means a lot of ‘baking’.

Er…bad red nails

Already, before reaching the stage of ‘bad red nails’ there was the stage of ‘bad clear gel nails’, where I’d somehow managed to apply the clear gel in patches, so there were massive gaps in the coverage. At this stage I was tempted to give up, but my mum (oh, didn’t I mention that my lovely amazing mother sat with me throughout this entire saga), persuaded me to try adding another coat of clear gel. This seemed to do the trick, so I then went on to the next, exciting, colour stage (with newly found confidence and zeal). This confidence and zeal lasted about 3 minutes, as I quickly realised that applying the colour coat was beyond my skill set.

Different colours

Sensing my increasing exhaustion with the whole exercise my lovely mum took over and tried applying the second coat of colour to the two tester nails. Despite her great work, once they were baked I had two different coloured nails. Not ideal.


It was now 10.30pm. We’d been at it for 1 ½ hours, and all I had to show for it were 8 extra shiny nails, and two messy nails in different shades of red. I was disappointed. And tired. But mainly just pissed.

Alien fingers

So I did something I never do (even in the face of great adversity and endless advice from loved ones) and I admitted defeat and gave up.

I wrapped my two red fingers in gel remover soaked cotton wool and foil, marvelled at how weird they looked, and contemplated my stupidity.

Which brings us bang up to date. It’s now 11.30pm…I leave for California in 8 hours, and I have 8 extra shiny glossy nails and two rather sad formerly red nails. It’s not ideal, but quite frankly right now I just don’t give a…

Conclusion:1. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks 2. Don’t leave everything till the last minute 3. Home beauty treatments are 100% definitely not for me

Post script:A MASSIVE thank you to my mummy, who stayed up way past her bed time and humoured me (when I’m pretty sure she knew from the off that my chances of success were minimal at best). Without her my evening/ this feature would have descended into tears, tantrums and apocalyptic depths of despair.